Neches made it look as easy as 1-2-3.
The Lady Tigers won their third consecutive state volleyball championship on Saturday, defeating Blum 3-0 in the UIL Class 1A title match in Garland.
Neches (29-4) won 25-20, 25-19, 25-12 at the Curtis Culwell Center, the Lady Tigers’ home away from home. Blum ends its season at 30-6.
The Anderson County school won the final five points in the third game to take home the gold in front of 589 fans.
Lexi Rogers, Neches’ 5-10 senior middle blocker, was voted Most Valuable Player of the championship match.
“We have been playing together so long; it is always something we had dreamed of and to win (the state championship) three times is insane to me,” Rogers said. “... I am so thankful we got to play this year (because of the COVID-19 concerns).”
Seniors Rogers, Emily Hill, Nayeli Quistian, Kacie Kimbrough and Raegan Hill, along with junior Mallory Main have been part of the three state championships.
“It has been a crazy year — dealing with COVID; trying to keep the girls healthy,” Neches first-year coach Jenna Jenkins said. “It’s been a great year — it has been so fun. ... The girls have worked super hard. We’ve had some big matches this year. ... a great experience.”
Rogers and Kimbrough led the Lady Tigers with 15 kills each with Hill contributing 40 assists and 15 digs.
Jenkins said Emily Hill, a 5-6 senior setter, is “The unsung hero of the team; she keeps things running smoothy.”
Other statistical leaders for the Lady Tigers were: Rogers (2 assists, 10 digs); Kimbrough (1 assist, 19 digs); Main (11 digs); Quistian (14 digs); Raegan Hill (8 kills); Kourtney Mannix (5 kills); Emily Hill (1 kill); and Emily Docteur (1 kill, 1 assist, 1 dig).
Emily Hill was elated to end her high school career with another title.
“It means a lot ... we have been playing volleyball together — the five of us — since the sixth grade,” Hill said. “Not many people have the chance to have one state championship, but we got three. I’m just grateful to be a part of this team.”
Blum was appearing it is third state tournament as was Neches.
Addison Willingham led the Lady Cats with 10 kills with teammate Emma Jones adding nine. Ruby Rumohr paced Blum with 20 assists while Kayden Arrington and Ava West added 15 and 11 digs, respectively.
Jenkins noted the backing the Lady Tigers have enjoyed.
“I know there are pretty high expectations for my kids and myself because our community expected to go back to the state tournament and win for the third time,” Jenkins said. “We still had the core of the team; they won (the state championship) when they were sophomores. There are six seniors on the team and five of them were on the team that won as sophomores and they went back and won last year. I know everyone was hoping we would win again so I am thankful we could bring it back for them — a three-peat for my girls.”
Jenkins said the Lady Tigers found their “rhythm midway through the second set. ... When my kids are running a consistent offense it is hard to stop us.”